Physician assistant graduate Chris Kornowski played a pivotal role in Concordia's COVID-19 relief efforts.

A homegrown resource: How physician assistant graduate Chris Kornowski stepped up amidst COVID-19

Following his May 2020 graduation from Concordia, the Falcons alumnus joined CUW’s Student Health Center team as they sought to keep students, employees, and surrounding community members safe and healthy during an unprecedented year.

For six and a half years, Chris Kornowski (’18, ’20) was in the learner’s seat at Concordia University Wisconsin. Here, he eagerly soaked up all that his professors had to offer.

On Jan. 14, 2021, however, less than six months after graduating with his Master of Science in physician assistant (PA) studies, Kornowski flipped the script when he administered the first COVID-19 vaccine on campus. The recipient of the vaccine was his former teacher Dr. Ernest Stremski, medical director of CUW’s PA program.

That day marked a historic moment for the university. After nearly a full year of disruption from the coronavirus pandemic, Concordia’s Mequon campus received its first allotment of the vaccine. This symbolically marked the start of a slow-but-sure return to normal. Following the inaugural vaccine clinic, the university’s Student Health Center continues to oversee the administration of vaccines according to state guidelines.


How the physician assistant graduate helped in the COVID-19 fight

Kornowski joined the CUW Student Health Center team in summer 2020 as a part-time COVID-19 response coordinator for the 2020–21 academic year. He served as one of nine on the CUW Student Health Center team. This team spearheaded unprecedented efforts to keep students healthy. They also worked to keep the university safely open throughout the fall 2020 semester and beyond.

His position at CUW was a temporary one. Kornowski recently landed a full-time position with Ascension Wisconsin. He notes that this past year helped prepare him in more ways than one for life after Concordia.

“At first when I graduated, I thought that was the end of my Concordia journey,” said Kornowski. “As I look back today, I realize God put me right where I needed to be. It’s been the perfect way to bridge the gap between me graduating and finding a position as a full-time health care provider.”

It was also the continuation of an overwhelmingly positive Concordia experience for Kornowski.

“From my days as an undergrad through to my graduate school experience, Concordia has always given me such a phenomenal experience,” he said. “For years, this place has poured out its resources and its love on me. What an awesome opportunity that I got to give back to a university that gave so much to me.”


Concordia’s pandemic response by the numbers

Over the past several months, Concordia’s Student Health Center, along with cross-departmental teams of Concordia faculty, staff and students, have dedicated their time and talents to keeping CUW students and surrounding community members safe and healthy amidst the pandemic.

To date, Concordia’s efforts include:

  • 3,059 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered
  • 15 Concordia COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics hosted
  • 73 faculty, staff, and students who volunteered at clinics
  • 1,060 rapid antigen tests administered
  • 27,916 PCR tests administered

Want in?

Learn more about CUW’s Physician’s Assistant program at

A version of this story first appeared in the spring 2021 issue of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor Special Magazine Edition. The spring/summer 2021 Hearts Together magazine hit mailboxes in early April. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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